plate tectonics

A colored map showing major and minor tectonic plates on Earth.

Understanding the Earth’s Structure: A Guide to Tectonic Plates

Caitlin Dempsey

The Earth's lithosphere is divided into tectonic plates, which are in constant motion. Learn where to find GIS data on tectonic plates.

This astronaut photograph of the Eastern Branch of the Rift (near Kenya’s southern border) highlights the classical geologic structures associated with a tectonic rift valley. Astronaut photograph ISS030-E-35487 was acquired on January 14, 2012.

The Continent of Africa Might Eventually Split

Elizabeth Borneman

Rifts could split Africa into pieces and create a new ocean that would form in the rift valleys.

How Deep are the Earth’s Tectonic Plates?

Elizabeth Borneman

Researchers have been able to create a better picture of tectonic plates by using both earthquake vibrations and seismic waves.